Monthly Archives: February 2009


The Necessities of Life 3

2009-02-21T14:05:29+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

The first hour was relentlessly depressing: Tiivii is told he has TB, is sent from his Arctic home to a big-city sanatorium, where no one speaks his language – and he makes no effort to learn French. Things perk up a bit when they locate an Inuit boy with TB who can translate, but the [...]

The Country Teacher 7

2009-02-21T14:03:39+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

Billed as Festival Director Roger Durling’s favorite, this Czech movie was beautifully and sensitively acted, but the simple story of a gay teacher’s coming to grips with his sexual preference undoubtedly appealed to the Durls more than me. (Why he didn’t rave about the somewhat similar Yngve surprised me.) Other than reflecting on how different [...]

The Man Who Loved Yngve -9

2009-02-21T14:03:02+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

The unfortunate title aside – there was no “man” in the movie and it was about so much more than loving Yngve – there was nothing I would change in this Norwegian coming-of-age story, a study, much like Juno, of that age when teenage rebellion and angst run up against real-world consequences. There was the [...]

Eye of the Leopard 3

2009-02-21T14:02:15+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

Amazing film of a leopard in the wild does not, of itself, make a great movie. In fact, this was a pretty bad movie: anthropomorphism abounded and Jeremy Irons’s melodramatic narration didn’t help. But worst was the convoluted story – not very interesting to begin with, then told in flashbacks so long one forgot the [...]

The Kabuli Kid 4

2009-02-21T14:01:36+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

I was less than enthralled throughout, partially because I was never comfortable with the premise: a troubled mother abandons her infant in the backseat of a taxi and the genial driver spends two days trying to return or find a home for the baby. Not that this couldn’t happen – although finding such a saintly [...]

Gomorrah – 8.5

2009-02-21T14:00:58+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

At first I dismissed this as a Sicilian version of the Sopranos without plot, humor, recognizable characters or professional camerawork. By the end, though, I knew the people and their stories had coalesced into a bleak, violent and scary world of an Italian crime “family” that read more like a nature documentary in its realism [...]

Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times

2009-02-21T14:00:19+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

It was rather shocking to me to learn that the L.A. Times didn’t seriously  undertake to impartially cover the news until 1960, when 4th-generation Otis Chandler became publisher. Until then, it openly touted the Chandlers’ business and political interests, “inventing L.A.” in the process. This documentary was highly polished but lacking in focus: the first [...]

Zift 5

2009-02-21T13:57:47+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

In marked contrast to Vacation – who would think the first two films I see at the Santa Barbara Film Festival would both take place inside prisons! – the Bulgarian esthetic is apparently raucous and messy. Or, you could say, loud and lewd. The story involves a petty criminal who wades through unbearable shit in [...]

Vacation 7

2009-02-21T13:57:12+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

An engrossing, oh-so-Japanese indirect reflection on the death penalty, told through the story of prison guard Toru Hirai, who volunteers to assist at the execution-by-hanging of prisoner Kaneda the day before his wedding. I was confused by the intercutting of his two worlds: the prison drama unfolded in orderly fashion, but the world outside proceeded [...]

The Reader 7

2009-02-21T12:06:26+00:00February 21st, 2009|Reviews|

Here are some of my questions: If Hannah was not intellectually curious, why did she take so readily to Homer, Chekov and Mark Twain? If she was intellectually curious, why had she not taught herself to read, or asked someone to teach her, before she was 60? If she was a shy recluse, why did [...]